Water pollution from industrial farms not only damages the environment and kills wildlife, but it can also sicken and kill people. And since these farms exercise little restraint when it comes to water usage, they tend to waste large quantities of water, even when neighboring communities are experiencing water shortages. Because small, sustainable farms are more integrated with their surrounding communities, they pay closer attention to the ways that they use water and how their practices affect local water supplies.
Most water pollution from industrial farms results from the storage and disposal of animal waste. Industrial livestock farms store manure and other farm wastes in gigantic tanks known as “lagoons” which can hold millions of gallons of manure and urine. Unfortunately, these lagoons often leak and—during large storms—they may rupture or simply overflow. When this happens, the environmental damage can be devastating. Leaking lagoons also release antibiotic residues and harmful bacteria that can leach into water supplies.
- There were over 1,000 documented spills or discharges of manure from animal feeding operations in the Midwestern states between 1995 and 1998.